With games postponed, Oilers choose to stay and train in Montreal

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With games postponed, Oilers choose to stay and train in Montreal


“We’re improvising a bit,” said head coach Dave Tippett. “There’s a lot going on behind the scenes between games and getting things done. ”

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That’s how fluid the Edmonton Oilers’ situation has been this week: Tuesday, after learning their three-game streak against the Canadiens had been postponed, the team believed they would travel on Wednesday.

Instead, a message was sent to the players at 11 p.m. on Tuesday, indicating that a practice had been scheduled for Wednesday morning at the Bell Center. Travel plans to Toronto for the games on Saturday and Monday were not confirmed as of Wednesday afternoon, with players and coaches adjusting as needed.

“We’re kind of improvising,” admitted head coach Dave Tippett on a video conference. “There’s a lot going on behind the scenes between games and getting things done. You have a plan in place, but it’s read and acted upon now. ”

The Oilers arrived in Montreal on Sunday intending to play games against the Canadiens on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, before heading to Toronto for a pair against the Maple Leafs, with whom Edmonton is tied for first place in the North division.

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But then the Canadiens’ Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Joel Armia were placed on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list and four games in Montreal this week were postponed. The Oilers, playing 12 games in 21 days, suddenly have time to catch up on training, rest and television in their hotel rooms.

“There are going to be challenges, some things are outside the norm and we have to face them,” Tippett said. “If you had walked through the whole year without any interruptions, you would have been grateful. You would probably have been surprised too.

Ken Holland, the Oilers general manager, was in conversation with NHL officials Wednesday morning, but Tippett had no details. The Oilers know those three games are subject to postponement, with Tippett saying each team should play 56 and not base the standings on winning percentages.

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While Tippett and the players would like to know when the games will be made up, he said you don’t necessarily have to assume they will come at the end of the schedule. “Whatever schedule is brought in afterwards, we also have to take care of it.”

Tuesday’s practice, anticipating a Wednesday game, was short and quick, according to Tippett. On Wednesday, the players were on the ice longer, playing a three-on-three scrimmage for two periods. It’s a fine line that coaches walk, remaining mindful of challenging players while changing the routine so they don’t fall into a funk.

Edmonton came to Montreal on a three-game winning streak and won seven of nine. They will now be well rested against the collapsing Leafs.

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“I think at this time of year there is a lot we can do in those few days of training,” defenseman Adam Larsson said before adding quickly, “obviously we want to play. matches.

“We would like to play as often as possible,” added Larsson, who is in the last year of his contract. “We’re ready for whatever they throw at us. We knew that sort of thing would happen at some point. As a team, we have come together a lot this year and have spent a lot of time together. You’re pretty much with the team all the time on the road.

Indeed, but if the Oilers had known this was coming, they could have trained at home and slept in their own beds.

“For guys with families, yeah, it’s a bit difficult,” admitted veteran forward Tyler Ennis. “There is not much we can do at home. It’s pretty much going to the rink and coming home. It’s been such a strange year that you almost expect one of these things to happen along the way. It is mental work.

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